Chom Greacon’s letter [Editor’s note: the guest column that appeared in the June 18 edition of the Weekly] on petcoke is the kind of pseudo-environmental alert that exaggerates a problem, makes inflated claims and raises concerns but provides no suggestions for solving the problem.
First of all while petcoke may well be as toxic as claimed it is produced by all refineries not just those refining tar sands oil which is a different but distantly related problem.
Petcoke, however, is an essential material for the aluminum industry as well as in the production of some titanium and some steel.
The 6,000 tons shipped weekly from March Point to Kitmat are used in the production of aluminum, not burned.
The concerns over the way the petcoke is shipped in open gondola cars has been corrected by agreement between the refinery, the Swinomish Tribe and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an agreement which is estimated to solve ninety percent of the problem.
Petcoke is also shipped from the Port of Anacortes to buyers overseas and has been doing so for at least twenty years without serious problems.
Since petcoke is produced not just by tar sands oil, and since there have been no reported problems with the shipment of petcoke from Anacortes there is no justification for saying “Petcoke is the coal hiding in [the] tar sands oil boom and is turning refineries into coal factories and our surrounding waters into dirty fossil fuel highway to Asia!”
This kind of reporting certainly does nothing to enhance the credibility of the writer or of the medium in which it appears.
We certainly deserve better from serious environmentalists – and from the media.
The original writer of this story (it has appeared in several other places) said it was based on “desk research” which seems to mean reviewing available printed material. Rather than “desk research” perhaps it should be called “armchair environmentalism.”